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A Short Analysis of William Blake’s ‘Cradle Song’

‘Cradle Song’ is intended to be sung by a mother to her newborn child in order to lull the baby to sleep. The repetition of ‘Sweet’ at the beginning of many of the poem’s stanzas (or perhaps we should say, the song’s verses) helps to create a soothing effect. One wonders how many infants have been eased into dreamland by maternal recitals of Blake’s poem.

Cradle Song

Sleep, sleep, beauty bright,
Dreaming in the joys of night;
Sleep, sleep; in thy sleep
Little sorrows sit and weep.

Sweet babe, in thy face
Soft desires I can trace,
Secret joys and secret smiles, Read the rest of this entry

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‘Darkness’: A Poem by Lord Byron

‘Darkness’ was inspired by a curious incident: the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia, which drastically altered the weather conditions across the world and led to 1816 being branded ‘the Year without a Summer’. The same event also led to Lord Byron’s trip to Lake Geneva and his ghost-story writing competition, which produced Mary Shelley’s masterpiece Frankenstein. For Byron, writing in ‘Darkness’, the extermination of the sun seemed like a dream, yet it was ‘no dream’ but a strange and almost sublimely terrifying reality.

Darkness

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,

Read the rest of this entry

A Short Analysis of William Blake’s ‘Infant Joy’

‘Infant Joy’ is a poem that was first published in William Blake’s 1789 volume Songs of Innocence. Like many of Blake’s poems from the two Songs collections, ‘Infant Joy’ is fairly straightforward and its meaning is reasonably plain – and yet the poem requires a little analysis to tease out its deeper ambiguities and subtleties.

Infant Joy

I have no name
I am but two days old.—
What shall I call thee?
I happy am
Joy is my name,—
Sweet joy befall thee!

Pretty joy!
Sweet joy but two days old,
Sweet joy I call thee; Read the rest of this entry